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The Countercultures: Once Pooh Poohed, Now Revered

1594 words - 7 pages

Throughout American history, the countercultures have greatly influenced the societies of their respective eras. The Quakers, the Harlem Renaissance participants, and the Hippies have had an immense impact on American culture. This impact is especially apparent in the political actions and art一audio and visual一of the countercultures’ respective times.
The Quakers first arrived in North America after facing constant persecution under England’s monarchical government. Led by William Penn, Jr., the Quakers landed in the not-yet-founded colony of Pennsylvania. During the early stages of their settlement, the Quakers and Native Americans had a mutual relationship; this一at the time一was unheard of between European settlers and Native Americans. It was not until after regular, Episcopalian Englishmen began to migrate to Pennsylvania that Native American and Pennsylvanian ties were broken. Although that progressive step forward of the counterculture, Quakerism, was neutralized, remnants of their beliefs were kept and ingrained into the United States of America’s own set of core values. This is especially evident in the United States’s first governmental document, The United States Declaration of Independence. Found in the Preamble, the line “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” (US 1776) is strong proof of Quaker impact. Before the Quakers, this was a foreign idea. Quakers did not only believe in the equality of men though; they also played a great role in the fight for gender equality一specifically一helping to push the Seneca Falls Convention. Society of Friends members truly did show that actions speak louder than words in that they modeled very progressive “relationships where men and women worked and lived in equality.” (US NPS) Quakers were also known for their use and production of woolen, cotton-free cloth as a way to promote abolition. These woolen cloths produced by Quakers were a prime ingredient in the clothing of most of the leading abolitionists, most notably, William Lloyd Garrison. In addition, Quaker homes were common points of the Underground Railroad. Quakerism一although not as prominent as during pre-Industrial Revolution America一is still a counterculture that has inspired American values.
The ending of the American Civil War was followed by the Great Migration, which saw over seven-million African Americans move to the Northern United States; they moved predominantly to the cheaper areas of living in New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. As the following graph indicates, most African Americans moved to New York:
Figure 1. African American Northern migration in 1910 and 1930

"The African-American Migration Story." PBS. PBS, 6 Aug. 2011. Web. 27 May 2014.
The neighborhood of Harlem in New York, by 1920, had become the most densely populated with African Americans and became known as the “Black...

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